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Posted September 18, 2008

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Elderly Care: Dealing With Bed Sores and Pressure Ulcers

Q. My mother was in the hospital for over a month, and I finally just got her home. Now she has a few mild pressure ulcers and two very bad sores on her butt from incontinence that even bleed at times. What can I put on those sores to give her some relief?

Melanie S., Westwago, Louisiana.

A. I'm sorry to hear about this. I would recommend taking your mom to see her physician. Without actually looking at the wounds, it is difficult to recommend a specific treatment.  

In the meantime, gently clean the areas with warm soapy water and pat dry daily or as needed if the skin gets soiled with urine or feces. If the skin is broken (which it sounds like it is), use liberal amounts of A&D Ointment to the open areas and surrounding skin. Re-apply at least three times a day or every time you need to change her.   

If the skin is intact but slightly red, you can apply a zinc-based moisture barrier cream to the area (Balmex and Desitin are among brand names, but generic is fine).

 This answer is provided by Dr. Vivian Argento, a trained geriatrician and member of the geriatric medical team at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Dr. Argento is an expert in memory and medical problems affecting the elderly and serves as a clinical instructor at the Yale School of Medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. She’s also a consultant both in and out of hospitals and cares for patients in various locations, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in their homes via a house calls program. Dr. Argento can be reached at

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